Don Baylor was always a team player. While in the MLB, he had a career that spanned nearly two decades and spent 19 seasons in the league playing for six different teams. Regardless of where he was playing, one thing rang true: everyone respected him. He was a strong figure in baseball and held a natural prowess that helped lead his teams to many victories.
So, naturally, it was quite a blow to hear he’d passed from a little-known illness, multiple myeloma, while still in his prime as a coach in 2017. He was 68.
Baylor was open about his battle and was an advocate for awareness about the rare form of cancer. Here’s more information about the illness.
What is multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell. Healthy plasma cells help you fight infections by making antibodies that recognize and attack germs.
In multiple myeloma, cancerous plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells. Rather than produce helpful antibodies, the cancer cells produce abnormal proteins that can cause complications.
Treatment for multiple myeloma isn’t always necessary right away because the cancer isn’t always immediately aggressive. If the patient is asymptomatic, physicians may watch the illness closely instead of launching into a treatment plan.
Causes for the illness are still undetermined.
What researchers do know is that myeloma typically starts out with one abnormal plasma cell in the bone marrow — the soft, blood-producing tissue that fills in the center of most of the bones. From there, the abnormal cells replicate quickly and cause issues in the immune system.